tv Book Discussion CSPAN August 23, 2014 8:00pm-9:01pm EDT
the programming language, but then by the time the computers come along and create the operating system. and that changes the nature of what computers are. and we realize as the women did when they were programming that the programming is where the magic comes. >> host: a quick preview of walter isaacson fall 2014 book "the innovators: how a group of inventors, hackers, and geeks created the digital revolution". you are watching book tv on c-span2. tv for serious readers. ..
>> good afternoon. welcome to the the heritage foundationing and our lewis lehrman auditorium. we welcome those joining us on c-span in the future on booktv. we would ask everyone here in house if you'll be so kind to make sure cell phones are turned off as we prepare to begin, and our program will be posted on the heritage home page following our presentation for your reference as well, and internet viewers are welcome to e-mail email@example.com. hosting our discussion today on behalf of heritage is our senior policy analyst for defense budgeting for foreign and
national security policy. she is familiar with both u.s. defense platforms, government contracting practices and brings her expertise to matters of defense hardware investment. before joining heritage, she worked at the washington, d.c. headquarters of avasent group, later becoming manager of an analytics from 2007 to 2009. ms. salmon served in thalson center here the allison center here at heritage on national security issues. she earned her bachelor's from the university of california irvine and a haasers in international -- masters in international relations at johns hopkins. please join me in welcoming vimh. [applause] >> good afternoon, and thank you all so much for joining the heritage foundation and concerned veterans for america today for what we hope is going
to be a great conversation with mark greenblatt about his most recent book, "valor: unsung heroes from iraq, afghanistan and the home front." if you all haven't had a chance to read the book, i would highly recommend it. it's a good short read and really highlights individual stories of truly inspiring stories from our soldiers and very telling of the quality of our troops. interviewing mr. greenblatt today is captain pete hegseth who is the ceo of concerned veterans for america. prior to joining concerned veterans for america, he was the executive director for vets for freedom where he successfully grew the organization to over 95,000 members. captain hegseth has been deployed three times. his last tour was in afghanistan where he served as the senior counterinsurgency instructor at the counterinsur general city training center in kabul. he holds two bronze stars for
his time served in iraq and afghanistan. a regular contributor to fox news channel and a senior fellow at the center of the american experiment and tour member for the council on foreign relations, captain hegseth has graduated from the princeton university and holds a masters from harvard university's kennedy school of government. please join me in welcoming captain pete hegseth. [applause] >> well, thank you very much. and, first, i want to thank heritage for what, first of all, partnering with us on this. this is truly a heritage effort, and for what heritage does to highlight efforts of veterans but also folks like mark who have done incredible work the try the highlight the stories of this generation. and i think this institution more than most in this town has fought to insure that these stories continue to be told and that we highlight folks doing great work like what mark is doing. so i'm honored to be here. i appreciate this.
i think the viewers will enjoy it, and i can tell you having had the opportunity to engage with "valor," you're going to want to pick it up if you haven't already. and i'm not even getting paid for this. [laughter] >> perhaps i should. >> maybe, we'll see when we're done. but it is a phenomenal read. i know members of our staff have engaged with it as well, and it provides an accessible -- and i don't want to, we're going to get into this in the discussion, but an accessible account of exceptional stories of what men did on the battlefield. it's the type of read that someone who's engaged with types of -- not on the level of these stories, but situations -- it is is accessible to a reader who hasn't been in the military, but it has the nuance and subtlety and depth of someone who engages multiple times engages with the material, and i think that's what makes it a powerful piece of literature. let me introduce mark briefly, and it won't do it justice, but
i think you'll get access to him through our q and a. mark is an attorney who specializes in criminal and ethics investigations. he's involved in several community service activities including service as the vice president of an education fund, the marion greenblatt education fund created in honor of his mother to honor excellence this education. he received his undergraduate degree from duke university and his law degree are from columbia university. he was also a senior managers and government fellow at the kennedy school of government at harvard university. a black belt in tae kwon do, so he can whoop some ass when he needs to and was a drummer in the fiasco which he claims to be as popular at the beatles, but i'll leave that up to you. [laughter] he lives in bethesda, maryland. ladies and gentlemen, welcome mark greenblatt. [applause] so, mark, you've said this before, you wrote as someone who isn't a veteran but wanted to
honor -- what made you undertake this endeavor, and how long did it take and what's the process been like? >> so in 2007 and 2008 i went to awards banquets where they honored military veterans -- i mean, folks serving in the military a. and they would tell their stories, and they would bring them up on stage in front of this huge audience of people, and there was not a dry eye in the house when they would tell these stories. these were unbelievable stories. and i would go year after year, and i kept saying how come no one knows this guy? this woman? they're going to go back, and if they're lucky i enough -- they'll be bagging groceries if they're lucky enough to find a job whereas in years past, in generations past they'd be, you know, they would have ticker tape parades in their honor, they would be hometown heroes. and we just didn't have that. so year after year i said how come no one knows these folks, and finally i said why don't i write about them? and that was literally the start of it. and then i just started securing stories. i do investigations.
as you mentioned, i do investigations for a living, so this was something during my day job i'd look at misconduct, and this was a nice juxtaposition where i was looking for positive conduct. i was looking for inspirational stories, what went right. and that was, that was what drove me. and be it footballing, it took a long time. it took five years. >> how did you find them? literally, would you read a news report and say, hey, i want to get in touch with this guy? was it word of mouth? how did you find such exceptional stories? >> variety of ways. veterans' organizations were helpful. disabled american veterans and veterans first helped me find stories, but other than that it was also just hunting stories down, calling contacts and saying, hey, do you know anyone that might be in this world, in that world and just moving forward and just getting closer and closer. it's one good thing about living in washington is, you know, you can get six degrees separation, you can pretty much get to anybody especially in the military. and that was something i just
hunted them down, you know, looking for stories. and eventually, i found a good roster of stories, and when i had an appreciable number, i thought, this is good, we're ready. >> sure, awesome. and we're going to get into a couple of those stories eventually because they're worth talking through here to get a sense of what you're engaging with in the material. but you mentioned ticker tape parades in the past. >> yeah. >> and in the book you talk about names that we know or understand from history that were sort of exemplary of those conflicts. except -- and you didn't name these names, but i will -- except when folks think iraq and afghanistan today, what are the names you engage with? jessica lynch or wendy england or beau bowe bergdahl. those are the names that people know from this conflict. why no aidety murphies? to get to the question -- i understand why you wrote it, why no sergeant yorks, why such little attention on the
individual heroics? >> i think a lot of it arises from the political turmoil surrounding the wars at the time. and i think there was an ethic, a culture of not romanticizing what men and women were doing over there. that was seen as cheerleading in the media. and i think that was frowned upon. that really was what eroded those types of stories getting out in sort of a big fashion. and that, i think, had a detrimental impact. because the only -- there was no counterweight to the negative stories that would come out. and that's really what was driving me, was that imbalance, was that there was a lack of balance between some of the negative stories -- say the abu ghraib incident -- and the positive stories that were going on. that was so out of balance that that was what i was trying to fix, cure that void on the other side of the scale. >> sure. no, i -- it's a very important
point. when a war is being fought on political terms, it becomes difficult to highlight. and as you said, maybe glorify in the eyes of some. but as you outlined so well in the book, these warriors, of course, separate themselves from those politics. >> that's right. they're doing a job. i -- >> i think unintentionally we talked about this briefly. the awards of the men in this book, one distinguished flying cross, several silver stars, multiple bronze star medals with valor devices, but no medal of honor recipients. and i think that's one of the things that's very intentional and excellent about this book is these are not guys who have received the highest awards this nation can be stow, but when you read what they've done, you wonder what then does it take if these guys aren't getting to? and that was one of the first things i responded to when you tell these stories. and then to get into the medal of honor itself, and i want to transition that a bit be,
because that's certainly one way to elevate it. overgot only 16 -- you've got only 16 of this generation and only four in iraq, all posthumous. why so few medals of honor, and do you think that also has to do with the political aspect? >> i certainly think it does. the pentagon, as we were talking about earlier with, the pentagon has certain technical requirements, and some of those are difficult in conflicts that we're in right now in terms of were there ieds and men and women are doing incredible things that may not quite qualify, you know, the technical requirements because you need to have, you know, combat fire, fire from combatants and that sort of thing. but i also think there was a concern about, again, cheerleading, looking like they were glorifying in order to drive support for the war. and so that made folks shy about bestowing the medal of honor. and so we have a huge gap, a huge divergence between in years past and the current generation.
it's something like one out of, you know, 30,000 troops received the medal of honor in years past, and now it's something like one out of 130,000. it's wildly different. and, you know, men and women are still doing pretty incredible things over there, not just the nine i talk about in "valor," but thousands of others. and it's just unimaginable to think that they're not doing the same great things at the same rate as previous generations. it just doesn't add up, in my view. >> it doesn't add up at all. i've got personal friends that i've known for a long time, incredible things. silver star, incredible, should be a medal of honor. and it does resonate because when a medal of honor is hung around the neck of someone of my generation, most recently kyle carpenter, marine, i'm proud of that. >> right. >> i, i don't wear that, i didn't do what i did, he did something so incredible that he deserves it, but i wear that with him saying, yeah, that guy represents my generation. i'm proud of what he did.
and i do think when you pull that back, you're sending a signal to troops of a generation that what they did wasn't quite worth what they thought it was. >> yeah. and by the way, let's not forget that even the medal of honor is no longer sacrosanct. look like guys like dakota meyer, there is major effort to understood mine his story, and it's very controversial these days. we've even gotten to the point where even that is not sacrosanct, and it's a real tragedy because of all the reasons -- >> yeah. this book hits home for me. i've got a painting of paul smith manning the turret of his humvee -- will that's right. >> actually over the changing table of my son's bedroom. [laughter] a little odd, right? but you know what? i want my son to know who he was. not care who britney spears is. and i think that's what the really, really powerful example of this book is. but it is unsung heroes of iraq, afghanistan and the home front. >> yeah. >> which is clearly intentional. you talk about the deeper side of these men.
>> right. >> tell me a little bit more about what was revealing to you about the deeper side. not just the combat side of these guys. >> well, i set out to right, essentially, combat stories. i wanted to tell what these guys were doing that i found to be amazing. but as i started interviewing them and getting to know them and e-mailing with them and talking with their families, i said there's more than just combat. it's more than the linear plotline that the bang-bang shoot 'em up stuff. that's exciting. but when you marry that up with this other half of the guy that i know -- >> uh-huh. >> -- it became incredibly compelling. and that was something i had to, had to incorporate. and i'll give you an example. one of the guys is a marine named james hassle, and james was an 18-year-old kid, and he enlisted in the marines, felt like it was his calling, his destiny. but his mother was furious. she was patriotic and wanted to defend the country, but she didn't want her son to do it. and so james in this heated
moment that i describe in the book, he finally says to to her, he promises her that he's going to come back from iraq in one piece. and that promise was really driving her. and as james -- fast forward, you know, a year or so, he's in iraq in this awful, awful fire fight. a buddy of his gets injured badly, and they have to escort, evacuate him out to an awaiting medevac. about 100 yards down an alley outside of this house that they're in. the problem is that there's insurgent fire going directly into that alley. there is no way james and his buddies can get ryan, the injured guy, out without going through the fire. what does james do? puts up his hands, says throw him on my back. james is the biggest guy in the unit at the time, and he knew, he said, i'm the guy. i can't not, i can't leave ryan here to die.
he said i may die on the way out, but i know ryan will die if i leave him here. so he puts ryan on his back, all the guys put ryan on his back, and just about as he's ready to leave, enter into that alley where there's live insurgent fire with a 200-pound man and his own gun, his own weapon, his own sack, everything, james thinks about the promise he made to his mother and thinks that he's about to break that promise. think about that a moment. now, when you're talking about writing about the deeper side of these guys, how do i not talk about that, you know? that was why i had to get into, you know, their background, their family, their, you know, this other side. these are three-dimensional vims. and so that was really -- individuals. that was really one that just stuck with me, and i tried to convey that, that moment when he's just sitting there looking at the precipice, and he's thinking to himself, i'm about to die. quite a moment. quite a powerful moment.
>> incredible. and throughout multiple moments where the families are the driving force, or a personal reason is a driving force behind why they do what they do. and i know for me it was the quiet prayer of my mother often times that i would think about on a raid and saying, man, i don't know where this is going to go. your head goes there. >> yeah. >> speaking of why they do what they do, what are the attributes? what is value hour? >> yeah. >> how does someone do something so exceptional? and i know you wrote quite a bit about it and saw some common threads throughout. what did you find? why do these guys do what they do? >> yeah. the one thing that was overwhelming was the sense of brotherhood, teamwork, self-sacrifice. it has different guises, but that's the central concept is they will do anything for each other. and it was overwhelming to talk to these guys. these are individuals who jumped into snipers' fire to save a buddy.
think about that concept. there's live sniper fire, and they jumped into it to help a guy who had just gotten shot right in that spot. it's pretty amazing. and so that was driving me. what are you thinking this that moment? -- in that moment? that's something that i don't know we as civilians can appreciate. and that's something that maybe you, pete, can speak to. you know, it's that training that builds in them that sense of brotherhood, and it's really just compelling and inspiring. you know, we don't have an equivalent to that in the civilian world. i mean, there's just nothing like it. and it was just incredibly inspiring. >> no, i think you hit on all of them. you hit on the brotherhood, you hit on the selfless service aspect of it. i think the one that i often times turn to -- and you did emphasize -- is impact of training. >> yeah. >> just really how significant that is on influencing natural human instincts. and i'm going to -- well, we can
jump into it right now. a particular story that grabbed me -- >> yeah. >> -- when i was reading the book for perfectly selfish reasons is and it was just particularly interesting was the one of michael walz, special forces captain in afghanistan who was, basically, an embedded trainer and special forces operator in remote villages in afghanistan. but just -- and i'll ask you to tell his story because you can do it better than me and a little bit about the relationship he had with the afghans and what he continued to do which is just an amazing, amazing story. >> absolutely. >> but in the middle of the ambush be, not to sort of lead with the most juicy aspect, instead of diving for fire, he stands up. >> yeah. >> and why? >> well, he was taught. so he's in the middle of what's called a river bed, it was a dried-up river bed in a very remote village in afghanistan, and he's leading a patrol, and it was an american unit paired with an gavin unit. they're training -- afghan unit.
they're training and trying to get them acclimated to some of these environments so they can stand up and do it on their own in years to come. and as they're walking, they are ambushed. and they receive live fire, and as pete said. your natural instinct if there are bullets coming at you is to get out of the way. but mike told me that he was trained that your armor is more secure in the front, and so he actually turned toward the rifle, the machine guns that were firing at him and stood up and started shooting back because otherwise if he's sideways, as they were, you're vulnerable here, and it can slip -- >> it's counterintuitive was you think you're a thinner profile, but you've got no plate. >> that's exactly right. that's what he was explaining. now, the incredible thing -- there are multiple things, as you said -- mike is very involved in the policy behind
our efforts in afghanistan. and so he wanted to insure he would engage with the population, and he didn't want to look like a stormtrooper where he had the helmet and night vision gear, so he had no helmet, and he went with what he called a light load. so here he is with a light load, no helmet, no grenade. he was firing his rifle facing full on at two machine guns, and then his rifle jammed. think about that moment. now, at that moment i definitely would have gotten out of the way. [laughter] but not mike. mike threw his rifle down -- i remember him showing me. he had a fluid motion. he threw the rifle down and picked up his pistol, and he was fighting back against two do -- two and maybe three machine guns with a pistol. by the way, let's remember he had no helmet. pretty incredible moment. and eventually he decided to duck behind a small stone wall that was five feet away, and he
describes his jump as not terribly graceful. but he did actually do that, he did jump behind the stone wall, and he continued firing. just an incredible story about how the training kicked in at that moment to turn so he was full on with his armor there despite the fact that he had no helmet. >> absolutely. it becomes -- it is overcoming what is hard wire in human nature to flight. the ability to then fight. i remember the first time i was shot at, i ducked and then said -- it was actually not, it was training, but it was also the shame of i've got buddies, and i'm not going to be the guy who ducks longer than anyone else. [laughter] there's a lot of human dynamics involved, but a guy like that, a special operator, when he jumped behind that wall and they were regrouping, the afghans had -- there was a man down that he knew was down that adds an incredible depth to this story. he proceeded to the rally the troops. tell the story of sergeant major sumar. >> yeah. so let's back up just a little bit. i said that they were paired.
mike's unit was paired with an afghan unit, and on the patrols in the days beforehand he had grown to develop a relationship with this sergeant major sumar who was leading up the senior noncommissioned officer of the afghan unit. and he really respected him. he was a hard-charging guy. he worked hard. the guy, the men under him respected him, and he was just so categorically different from what mike had seen in other armies both in afghanistan, but in elsewhere in the developing world. and he said that's the kind of guy we need. that is what will help afghanistan succeed, you know? clone that guy 10,000 times, and you'll be fine. so he really developed this admiration, this respect, this really healthy relationship with this guy. and mind you, the incredible thing is this was all done through an interpreter. neither one of them spoke each other's language. and he said it was really remarkable how sumar could still engage with you, you know, each through an interpreter. -- even
through an interpreter. very unique man. and on this particular ambush, i mean, on this particular patrol sumar was at the very, very front, mike was a couple of folks back leading the team. and when the shots rang out, mike saw that sumar was hit pretty wad. mike then -- pretty bad. mike then fought back, as we were just describing, full on fighting with his pistol. he then jumps behind the stone wall, but he knows sumra is down. so mike, think about this concept, runs back into the kill zone -- that's where the shots are firing -- runs back into the kill zone running toward where the machine gunners are to grab sumar. and he carries him back. and he describes it in not terribly elegant, you know, because he's trying to high tail it out of there. he doesn't know if the machine gunners are sitting right there, throwing a grenade, he doesn't know what's going to happen.
he just knows he has to get sumar out of there now. as he's coming back to the grove of trees where the rest of the men were, he is pulling sumar, and he feels sumar die. he was literally in his arms when sumar breathes his, had his last breath. and it was very emotional, and, you know, they're still in the middle of a combat zone, and this guy just died in front of him. the first one of the afghans to die. and they later took up a contribution to help his family. they knew he had a large number of kids, and they took up a collection and sent it back with an interpreter who was from his, from his city, his town. the guy comes back, and i should mention that sumar and mike had talked, and one of the things mike had asked him is why on earth are you in the army?
it's a life-threatening decision. not just the combat, but also, you know, there's taliban that are seeking to kill you, you know, in your villages and that sort of thing. and he said, you know, that he wanted his kids to have a better life, and he said he needed toen enough money so -- earn enough money so his kids would not go to the madrassas, that was his big fear, and become radicalized. they gave the family, you know, a collection to help support them after sumar passed away. but then mike heard from the interpreter months later that the widow had run out of money and was forced to send the can kids to the madrassas. this was everything sumar and mike were fighting against, and it was happening. it was unfolding in front of his eyes. and so mike -- this is on his own accord -- developed a way to wire money from america to this widow. mind you, he had never met her. he had never met anyone in the
family other than sumar. but he is sending them money, thousands and thousands of dollars of his own dollars in order to support namely. support that family. and what ultimately happened, he learned when he came back for another deployment is because of the money he's sending over, the widow could pull those kids out of the madrassas. i mean, that's just -- so when you're talking about telling the deeper side of these guys, how do i not tell that story? what he did in the wadty trying to save sumar is pretty incredible, but funding, supporting his family so they don't get radicalized, that's other worldly. >> and anonymously. >> right. >> they don't know who it is. he's the friendly american. money shows up. and you do mention that third deployment he went on in 2009, the kids had actually been at madrassas for a couple of months because he didn't have the money, and she was able to pull them back. i think, and, obviously, we can
engage, i'm going to ask you to tell one more story just to give everyone a flavor. but michael walz is, you know, he went on to be a policy adviser at the white house on afghan policy. i think he's a unique example of someone who has existed in the deepest, darkest, most difficult days in a tactical sense but understands the sort of strategic connections -- >> that's right. >> which is up times what's missed. this book is not political at all -- >> right. >> but i'm going to ask you a quasipolitical/nonpolitical question. do you -- we're at heritage, we're in washington, d.c., we're in the middle of a political bubble. what would washington -- how would washington look different if michael walz was sitting in the halls of congress as opposed to what we have today or men and women like him? >> sure. i think it's a tragedy that we have such a death of veterans -- dearth of veterans serve anything congress. i don't understand how that has unfolded over the years. but it is where we are, and i think it would be very different. i think the v.a. scandal would
have a very different tone. i don't know that it ever would have happened. i think there would have been oversight in a different way, a different category of oversight. and also i think just the discussion of the wars. i mean, when you see, like, there are moments i've seen testimony when individual, you know, very senior officers are testifying in congress, and i heard about one incident where the officer was sundaying to a question from a senator, and he said, ma'am, and he kept saying ma'am pause that's how he was trained. -- because that's how he was trained. and the senator took offense at that. she took offense at that and instructed him to not call her that. and that seemed just sod that someone of -- so sod that someone of that stature would not have that understanding of how that culture is. and it struck me that that was such an illustrative moment to
me that was a real tragedy. but i think the discussions are, you know, surrounding the wars, things like the veterans backlog which is just an absolute travesty. i think those things would be very different. >> uh-huh. >> and i think we need to have, you know, more folks serving. i mean, more veterans receiverring in congress -- serving this congress. >> yeah. that's a home front extension of what you're talking about. and one of the missions we're trying to work for and advocate for at concerned veterans of america. maybe it's because i'm an agitator, i don't know, but i would relish the opportunity and relish watching some young veterans, republicans or democrats, who have been elected to congress who sit there in that oversight function and are able to talk to a general and say, general, i respectfully disagree, and here's why. >> that's right. >> and sometimes not so respectfully. maybe that's why i like it as a captain. but you're right, that oversight function, the ability to tell the hard truths based on earned knowledge and credibility is so much of what's lacking here. and the understanding of something greater than yourself than just punching a political
ticket. absolutely. so tell us if you would one or two, the best -- don't, you know, they're going to get the best when they read the whole thing. another plug there. [laughter] seriously, there's so much in here, he could tell any story in any chapter, i be tell us -- but tell us one or two nuggets or stories that give it more flavor. >> sure. one of the, one of the stories is about an army grunt, his name is steve sanford. and steve was in an awful fire fight in mosul, iraq, and they were taking very bad casualties, and they were evacuating out a large number of folks from this one house. and steve was providing suppressive fire in the house as others were evacuating the guys out. as they're coming out, they're finishing up, they've gotten all the guys out, and steve was manning the door. and he saw a friend of his walking out toward the humvees, and a shot rang out and hit his buddy, a guy named chris, in the
neck. and chris dropped. and steve -- who was in a position of relative safety, i meerntion he was not in the sniper's fire, he was on the fire, the sniper can could not have got him -- steve ran out to where chris had just gotten shot right in the sniper's fire 20 feet away there the sniper -- from the sniper, and he started performing cpr on chris. think about that concept. he's performing cpr on chris as the sniper is plugging away at steve, plugging away over and over and over again. and i asked steve, i said, what are you thinking in that moment? and steve said -- this is a moving moment, he was crying when he told me this d he said, i had more important things to do than worry about little pieces of metal sticking out of my vest. think about that moment.
he's literally trying to save his buddy's life, and the sniper is pinging away. finally, the sniper hit a shot that wasn't in his armor, and it was in his leg. it was a devastating leg shot, and it hurt. and steve then understood, okay, i've got to pay anticipation to that guy now -- attention to that guy now. and steve whipped around his rifle and with one hand -- because it was so close -- he shot, and they were just shooting at each other relatively close distance, i mean, as close as i am to some of you in the audience. and they're shooting away, and final lu one of steve's -- finally one of steve's shots killed the sniper. that was about a minute before steve blacked out, and, you know, he was later evacuated to the hospital. he, apparently, had cardiac arrest three times during surgery that night. so he essentially died three times, and they brought him back three times that night. and he is now, i'm happy to report, he's doing very well. he is a police officer in
michigan, and he's a good guy. [laughter] >> no, that's, that's a great segway. how -- we, the narrative oftentimes in the media is you've got broken men and women coming home, damaged goods, ticking time bombs. >> right. >> based on these nine stories, how are these guys today? >> yeah. >> what are they contributing, what's the sort of epilogue, if you will? >> yeah, sure. i do touch on some of the stories, i give an epilogue for, you know, but now we're a bit, a little removed from even those epilogues. i am very happy to report that by and large they're doing very, very well. these are good guys. they're smart and they're active, they're engaged. they did struggle. some of them did struggle, you know, especially the ones that had close buddies die to them like steve with his buddy chris who ultimately did pass away. you know, some of them struggled. but i'm happy to report they're
doing pretty well. two of them, unfortunately, have passed away, and it's an amazing thing that neither of them were in combat situations. they were both home, and they were just tragic situations when they passed. >> one of them doing the duty of tending to a fellow veteran. >> that's right. chris kyle who's a former navy seal, and he had some, he had some notoriety in a positive way. he had written a book. he's one of the stories in "valor," and he set up a large charity effort when he came home to help veterans that were suffering from post-traumatic stress. and one of those that he was helping he offered to take him to a range and shoot because that's what, you know, that's how they can just relax and hang out. and this one particular marine just lost it and flipped out and thought that chris was going to get him, and he shot chris and killed him right there on the spot. it's really, it is an awful, awful story. but of the seven who are with us
today, they are really doing well, and, you know, adjusting and going the school or working, you know, and doing good things. >> as you said, chris kyle had reached a certain level of notoriety for what he'd written and what he'd done as a sniper. how many of these other guys had been approached at any point before you approached them? how many of them had had someone come up and said tell me your story or help me tell your story? >> none. that's why it's called "unsung heroes." by the way, chris was not approached. i was the first to approach him, and and he later wrote his book after he left the service. so even chris at the time was a nobody. no one knew anything about chris. if i could just add a little piece about chris. pretty amazing thing. and this is one of the themes that i have throughout the book is this sense of humility that these guys don't talk about what they did, they don't, you know, focus a spotlight on themselves ever. chris, for those of you who don't know, was a navy seal
sniper, and he was the most lethal sniper in american military history. think about that concept. and he was incredibly effective. he was called -- the insurgents in iraq called him the devil of ramadi. again, think about that concept. they put a bounty on his head, $80,000, on his personal head. he was awarded multiple silver stars, multiple bronze stars. i told one story of one of his bronze star medals with "valor," and the amazing thing about chris, i interviewed him for eight hours while he was in baghdad, eight hours. that's a lot of questions. that's a lot of answers. countless e-mails after that never, not once, not one time did he mention any of those things. now, i don't know about you, but
if i had done any one of those things, i would have tattoo id on my forehead, tweeted about it like you wouldn't believe, right? [laughter] i mean, not these guys. not chris and not the rest of these guys. they just don't do that. it's so inspiring especially in this area, you know, where claiming credit is what we do. [laughter] you know, it's what capitalism is based on. [laughter] and these guys just don't do that. and the contrast is just so remarkable. and i think when you're talking about getting those folks into serving congress, that's what would be so great, is that sort of thing where they're not going to shine the light on themselves. they're not going to say i did this even though, you know, they may have played some small role. that's something that would be just so refreshing, so healthy. >> well, i'm going to, we're going to open it up to questions here. we've got a great group here. we've got microphones, so if you've got a question, raise your hand, we'll get a microphone to you. but before we do that as we get
it set up, i just want to -- i'll probably do it again at the end, but tell you how grateful i am. i can't speak on behalf of anybody, but i know for our generation so much of what guys want is just for their story to be told or the story of their men to be told. i worked a lot with sean parnell, wrote a book, "outlaw," because he couldn't stand thinking about the stories of what his men did not being told. and if you know sean, you know it's not about him. >> uh-huh. >> he just saw what he wants every american to see through the pages of the book that he wrote. and that's exactly what you did with the book "valor." and i as just one veteran myself want to thank you for putting in this blood, sweat and tears that goes with telling these stories, because i know how much, how valuable it is to them but, ultimately, to all of us that they continue to be told. thank you very much. >> thank you. i just wrote the words. you did it. the thanks should be going in the other direction. but i appreciate it. >> questions, please.
>> hi. i'm barbara ladean. i have two sons who served and a daughter -- in the military, and a daughter who serves in a civilian capacity. there seems to be a divide between them and the other people of their generation who stayed here and attended college for the most part. they're, let's say, elite generation and who think they know something about the war and about what we were doing. there's a pretty profound divide, actually. my kids talk about leadership going forward and the fact that their generation, you guys, your generation will be, the leadership will be composed of those people who served.
what do you think of that? >> i would hope so. for the very reasons we were just talking about. i think that's essential. we have to get those tokes involved in the lit -- those folks involved in the political process. that type of selflessness, that type of leadership is sorely lacking, i think. so, yes, absolutely, i -- and i would agree, i think there's a chasm, a massive chasm between, you know, the folks that serve and don't. and i think there's some not just a divide, but that divide leads to the a lack of understanding. and that's a problem. that's a problem. you know, when it's not in people's faces, they forget about things like the v.a. backlog, they forget about things like, you know, the men and women that are serving overseas when it's not their neighbor, when it's not someone in their family. and i think that chasm is problematic, absolutely. >> barbara, it's -- and questions are for mark, but i'll hold back my chiming in.
no, it's a fantastic question. i think this book serves the purpose of educating a public that has no idea what went on since 9/11. and, barbara, knowing your sons, what they've contributed, what your family's contributed, this is part of educating and highlights what that -- i also think, unfortunately, the onus also still rests, very much so, on veterans to insure that that chasm doesn't turn into animosity which it quickly can when you say i've seen all this, i've done all this, it's underappreciated. this guy read it in a book or learned it at harvard and, therefore, he wants to tell me about national security policy or what it's like to work in afghanistan. that can quickly turn into animosity. so the ec tent to which veterans -- extent to which veterans can assist other vet veterans, i mean, there's a connective network there where, hopefully, it's small groups of people that make change. and i think it'll ultimately be those who are, who have seen the real deal, understand how to connect the tactical and the
strategic working together to affect change in a nation where the rest of the country's asleep or complacent. so i very much appreciate what you have to say. we'll go right here. the firsthand and then this gentleman. >> my name's christy mccormack. i wanted to know outside of the training in the military, did you see anything or hear anything in the backgrounds and childhoods of these guys that would lead them to be this kind of a soldier or service member and do these kinds of acts of valor? >> sure, that's a good question. one thing was that many of them had friends and relatives that had served, and that was something that was sort of in the back of their mind, that they thought they would go into service. a couple of them were just out of nowhere like james hassle whose family members hadn't served, and it really came as a thunder clap to his mother. and there's another guy, dan foster, who there's no one --
really his grandfather had served honorably but for a short time long before dan was alive. so i would say generally they had folks that they were familiar with that had served, but there are a couple that just sought out that structure, the brotherhood. they liked the concept of belonging. james actually did research boo what the marines -- into what the marines were all about, and he just became enamored with them, and he said i have to be a part of it. i can't not be a part of it. and it was pretty compelling. this was out of nowhere for him. there was no -- it was just something that developed within him, and it was pretty inspirational. >> one of the attributes just to piggyback on that question you talked about humility a lot in the book. and you think of honor, those are things you're trained or taught. humility is sort of a residual piece a bit, but did you find
these are humble guys who joined the military, or their service humbled and them and, therefore, was the cart before the horse what? >> i think it varied a little bit, but all of them through the training became humble. james, the one we were just talking about, described himself as, you know, a brash kid. he said when he was playing football, you know, he walked out in his first game and pretended, you know, he acted like he was tom brady. so he was this brash kid, and it was all about him, and he was strutting around. you know, he was this kind of charming rogue. but he describes, and i go to great pains in the story to tell about his evolution. into this team player, this guy that was not about himself. it was really remarkable, this evolution that occurred in a relatively short period of time x it was all through the military, it was all through that training. he eventually adopted this credo that, you know, you have to be
part of the sloughs, not part of the -- solution, not part of the problem. he told me all about that. and he said that was all from his training. so i think they were in some measure, some of them were humble going in and fit right in, and some of them came in maybe a little brash, a little, you know, a little like a peacock but quickly morphed into that humble team-first player. >> [inaudible] >> i can hear you. >> tom with the heritage foundation, combat veterans -- [inaudible] in afghanistan. basically wanted to ask you about the cheerleading that the media can't do. i was -- didn't do. i was wondering what your thoughts were on why the media wasn't cheerleading. >> i think some of it is residual from the vietnam era sent m, but i think -- sentiments, but i think it was grounded in the politics and the
media environment at the time that i think they, monotheir peers f they wrote stories like this, they would be perceived to be cheerleading. i think it was just frowned upon. that wasn't news. it wasn't news to talk about a good story, it was news to talk about abu ghraib. that's tragic. you know, i think that's a real problem, but i think that was the ethic of the time was that it was, you know, if you just wrote something that was unvarnished positive, you were cheerleading. and i hope that that has changed to some degree in the sense that now we're seeing some of the medal of honor recipients getting some unvarnished good press although you have the moments like dakota meyer where folks are trying to undermine that story as well. but i think that's what it was, i think it was just given the swirl of the turmoil of the politics at the time, you were perceived to be cheerleading, and that was just frowned upon. that was my sense. >> yeah. and i would say the sting is --
you want -- it's no longer cool to be for the home team. >> right, exactly. >> and especially when it comes to the press in wartime. in world war ii there were things that were withheld, the stories that were told, because they needed to be told. i think you've got vietnam incredibly -- obviously, affected the media. but now you've got a media obsessed with sort of every level of independence to the point of insuring we're telling a story with balance that includes all of the wrong things america has done on the battlefield as opposed to emphasizing the good. >> well, not only that, there was a picture of a journalist who was taking a picture of an insurgent sniper shooting at americans. i don't know that in world war ii an american journalist would have been taking pictures of a german sniper shooting at americans. i just -- maybe i'm wrong. i just think the ethic has changed where it's this detachment is overwhelming.
and any sort of positive story is sued at cheerleading -- is viewed as cheerleading. i'm hoping that's eroding over time. i think there's maybe a little course correction there lately. i hope. >> well, it also can be disingenuous to -- not in this case, in the media to say, well, now it's time to cheer for the home team after the game's over, i'll put the jersey on. [laughter] and that is something that veterans feel. that's most certainly not what this book is. this is a book to correct and say look at what these men have done. yes, sir. you've got another one. >> can you hear me without the mic? blake lewis, i'm an intern here at heritage. thank you both for coming. question would be especially for the younger generation, but i guess everybody here. not everybody's going to be able to write a book explaining these stories and getting that publicity out there, so what can the younger generation do to help this movement, help get these stories out there and do this some justice?
>> i think, you know, telling the the stories, forwarding them, you know, facebook and things like that can be incredibly effective in broadcasting these stories, keeping them in the front of people's minds so that when something happens on, you know, keeping one the kardashians, you know, we also have the lance of what really matters -- the balance of what really matters. so even on a low level in terms of things like facebook that can help, just telling the stories. that's something i'm doing now is beyond the nine i've written about in the book, i'm posting on my web site, in my book, i'm telling new stories of incredible incidents that are just inspirational. and i literally get choked up when we're writing them. and they're only a page and a half or so. i mean, it's not long. but those, share those types of stories. and they're not hard to find. and that's the sort of thing i think even on sort of in the ground game it can be very easy to do that and just, you know, share them with friends and, you know, one thing you can do, by the way, is on my web site i
have ways you can e-mail the seven that are remaining and the families of the two guys that passed away, and you can ask them what can we do, you know, to broadcast the story. i mean, i think that's the kind of thing you can engage with these guys. they're great guys, and i'm sure they would love to hear from people. but that's a way you can also do it. what can we do to get you out and, you know, come to our community that, you know, give a talk about this or that. i think they would love to do it. >> what is that web site? >> markleegreenblatt.com. >> markleegreenblatt.com. >> and on there there's an e-mail a hero tab. you can pick all of them, two of them, whatever you want. and, you know, some of them resonate with others. i mean, you mentioned mike walz hit home for you, and whatever it is, you can reach out to those guys, and i'm sure they'll talk with folks, and, you know, meet with an organization, that sort of thing, spread the word. >> that's very cool. i didn't know that aspect of the
ability to sort of actually engage with not the characters, you can kind of use that phrase. >> right. >> the folks that you highlight in the story. i would also answer your question by saying look to your own community too. i'm from a small town in forest lake, minnesota. dozens and dozens of guys and gals from that town have gone and done incredible things. find a way to honor them in a small ceremony this their home -- in their hometown where they never get honored. whatever it is, i think there are small, subtle ways that we miss. and this is a big way to do it, which hopefully is the inspiration for smaller ways that individuals in their places can highlight families and veterans. >> we have time for one more. >> sure, absolutely. >> yep. >> hi, i'm david, i'm also here at heritage. and i've read a few books like "lone survivor survivor" and "hd the fist," and usually they do talk about their efforts coming back here at home. and we hear in the news a lot
about how we do have broken people coming back and it's a tragedy with suicides in the military being one of the highest issues, etc., etc. how, you said that these people have been doing well, and what has allowed them to do well and what are things that we can do in the future and allow our veterans to to come back and integrate into society better as well as us in the community be able to support them? >> i would boil it down to, basically, one word; jobs. i think that really helps. that's just my sense of, my small sample old of the world -- sample of the world. it does help. it helps them ease back in, gives them a sense of purpose, a sense of mission and relieves financial strain. a couple of my guys, one of my guys, james -- who i mentioned with the promise to his mother -- he was homeless for a hitting while when he came back. think about that concept. he had just gone and served, and he was homeless because the v.a. was screwing up his benefits. same thing with dan foster, you
know, who served admirably and earned a silver star holding off an ambush in a remote outpost in afghanistan. he came back, and the v.a. thought he was in north carolina, but he was living in california, so he didn't get, you know, he didn't get his benefits. he had no job, and he was in financial straits for a little while. jobs help reasemilate, get them -- reassimilate, get them back going. just the sense of awareness, having civilians, the country understand their story. that's a huge deal. one of the guys, a gunnery sergeant, he's now a masterrer sergeant, buck doyle. i said what do you want to come out of this? he said i want people just to understand. and that was exactly the phrasing pete used. you know, just to understand what, you know, it's not sympathy, not pity. that's certainly not what they want. just some sense of understanding of what they're doing and, you know, what they're suffering through, what their families are
suffering through. you know, bridging the very divide that barbara was talking about earlier. i think that would help. but with i really think jobs. jobs, jobs, jobs. if i could snap my fingers and change the world in terms of the question you're asking, that would be a big one. >> and i'd add to that peer peer-to-peer, veterans working with other veterans is incredibly effective, and we're working hard to work on the v.a. piece, but so many small, private organizations, veteran-led organizations are doing really well because veterans can relate in ways others cannot. and you said the word a couple of times, purpose. what's really hard to recapture when you come home is that feeling you had with those men in that remote afghan village that had life or death consequences. and then you come back here and you're like, well, do i watch o'reilly or hannity tonight? you know? and everything feels mundane. >> that's right. >> and so i think the jobs piece or a sense of purpose so
critical. they don't want a handout. they don't want to be seen as a victim. they don't want to be seen as permanently damaged. and i do think they will be part of the long-term -- if america is to be restored, i think it's going to be led by guys and gals who understand and have done these types of things. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> thank you. [applause] >> well, before we, before we close, i just want to again thank heritage for hosting a fantastic forum for taking the opportunity to highlight this, highlight mark. markleegreenblatt.com, and the book is "valor." you can get it, i'm sure, anywhere there's the interwebs. [laughter] but it's fantastic read. it will, it will change the way you see the ordinary heroes that aren't so ordinary who wouldn't otherwise have had their stories told. so pick one up, tell other people about it, and thank you, everybody, for being here.
>> thank you. [applause] >> booktv is on twitter. follow us to get publishing news, scheduling updates, author information and to talk directly with authors during our live programs. twitter.com/booktv. >> booktv asked, what are you reading this summer? >> i like to read about american history, but i also like fiction, and i just finished reading a book called "winesburg, ohio," it's written maybe 75 years ago sort about small town america, happens to be my state. but it really does kind of capture sort of the small town and people's rivalries and all that that fiction does so well. i just finished a book called "five came back" about five hollywood directors during world war ii that president roosevelt asked to film overseas actions in the war and battles and talk
to the american public about it through film in a way that really rallied the country and the battle mostly against germany, also less so about japan. and i'm looking forward this summer to reading a book by senator tim kaine's father-in-law who who was a republican governor of virginia, and his name is lenwood holton, the father of his wife, of anne, and about his battles as a republican when republicans were much more sport i of -- supportive of civil rights than they are today. one last one, an interesting history book by a professor named joe crespino called strom they are monday's america which is an interesting story of race in the '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s really into war in our era and how southern politics played in that. >> what are you reading this summer? tell us what's on your summer reading list. tweet us @booktv, post it to
our facebook page or send us an e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. >> next, eric liu, former speech writer and adviser for president clinton, talks about the history of chinese-americans and the experiences of his own family members in the united states. mr. liu spoke at the world affairs council in san francisco. ..